A weather expert says straight-lined winds of 90 to 100 miles per hour struck the southeast South Dakota town of Garretson. The water is safe, but crews are working on restoring power. Todd Heitkamp with the National Weather Service says the damage indicates strong winds moved in one direction. He says Monday morning’s storm was not a tornado. Heitkamp says winds that high are dangerous and the damage in Garretson is proof.
Strong straight-line winds tore through Garretson early Monday morning. Fire Chief JR Hofer says about 30 people are displaced after the storm.
“More of the structural damages was on the edges of town. The trailer court was hit fairly hard. I mean, we had some big trees come down on some houses and cars in that area,” Hofer says. “There’s a lot of campers that were tossed in the wind. We did have one car that was rolled out of a driveway.”
Hofer says three houses no longer have roofs, and winds ripped off siding and shingles. The other obvious damage is to trees. Thousands of branches snapped, and the winds sheared some tree trunks and uprooted others. Garretson resident Bill Gloe is hauling a trailer of trees stacked eight-feet-high to a drop-off site.
“There are just a ton of branches down, all various sizes. You’ve got twigs, a ton of leaves,” Gloe says. “It’s just a mess, almost kind of think about like a bomb went off. Just everything went in every different direction."
Gloe and Jason Blosmo toss huge branches onto the same mounting debris pile. Blosmo says the storm came up suddenly.
“The winds were so loud. It was really ominous. It was really gray. You couldn’t see much. You know, our power lines are draped across our bank fence and stuff like that, and of course it was early in the morning so you couldn’t see much until the lightning when off and then you could see flashes of this and that," Blosmo says.
Blosmo and his son Conner heap more branches into their pickup and small trailer, drag them to the drop site, unload and repeat. They’re driving through town loading whatever they can get out of people’s way.
State and county crews are helping clear debris from city streets.